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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Iran’s Rivalry with Saudi Arabia: Elites, Power-Sharing, and a Domestic Politics Explanation of Rivalry Fluctuation
by Wilson, Thomas Keith, Ph.D., Indiana University, 2020, 515; 28261742
Abstract (Summary)

Rivalries are a unique class of relationships responsible for most of the interstate conflict around the world. Change to behavior between the beginning and end of these relationships, however, has received relatively little attention. Existing work on rivalry fluctuation tends to incorporate a minimalist approach to internal dynamics or find domestic politics unnecessary to explaining behavior. In this study, I reorient familiar mechanisms into a domestic-centric model focused on decision-makers and institutions. In doing so, I reconsider whether or to what extent internal dynamics explain levels of conflict and cooperation in strategic rivalries. I evaluate the utility of a domestic framework using a most likely case design—Iran’s rivalry with Saudi Arabia from 1979–2015. Applying an approach that includes descriptive event data, content analysis of event data source material and area studies literature, I find that shocks trigger a domestic process in which elites possess the capacity to generate rivalry output in accordance with bargaining space available and the unique operating rules of institutions. This capacity is shaped by issue-type and influenced by regime-type characteristics. At least for electoral authoritarian regimes, actors have space to drive cooperation even in entrenched conflict-prone relationships as regime power-sharing increases and states operate further from direct external threat. It appears, however, that both escalation and de-escalation may be complicated by higher-power sharing levels in electoral authoritarian regimes. The potential scope conditions this project offers contributes to work in building reliable middle ground theory in the rivalry research area and offers potential research and policy benefit on matters of rivalry war and peace.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Thompson, William R.
Commitee: Golestaneh, Seema, Koren, Ore D., MacLean, Lauren M., Winecoff, William K.
School: Indiana University
Department: Political Science
School Location: United States -- Indiana
Source: DAI-A 82/7(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: International Relations, Middle Eastern Studies
Keywords: Domestic model, Iran, Power-sharing, Rivalry fluctuation, Strategic rivalries
Publication Number: 28261742
ISBN: 9798557094726
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